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Civil Society Joint Statement - September 2013

Civil Society Joint Statement - September 2013

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Published by BC Teacher Info
The 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly will see the launch of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ́s Special Report: A life of dignity for all: accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015. In this context, a broad group of civil society networks and organizations are coming together to highlight the compelling case for ensuring that the fulfilment of human rights is at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda, and that the education narrative, as well as goals and core indicators, is grounded in a human rights perspective. The organizations and networks1 presenting this statement reaffirm that the following principles express an understanding of education as a fundamental human right.
The 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly will see the launch of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ́s Special Report: A life of dignity for all: accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015. In this context, a broad group of civil society networks and organizations are coming together to highlight the compelling case for ensuring that the fulfilment of human rights is at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda, and that the education narrative, as well as goals and core indicators, is grounded in a human rights perspective. The organizations and networks1 presenting this statement reaffirm that the following principles express an understanding of education as a fundamental human right.

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Published by: BC Teacher Info on Sep 27, 2013
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  p   h  o   t  o  :   E   R   I   K   T    Ö   R   N   E   R
THE HUMAN RIGHT TO EDUCATION
IN THE POST-2015DEVELOPMENT AGENDA
The 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly will see the launch of Secretary-General BanKi-moon´s Special Report:
 A life of dignity for all: accelerating progress towards the MillenniumDevelopment Goals and advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015.
In thiscontext, a broad group of civil society networks and organizations are coming together to highlightthe compelling case for ensuring that the fulfilment of human rights is at the heart of the post-2015development agenda, and that the education narrative, as well as goals and core indicators, is groundedin a human rights perspective. The organizations and networks
1
presenting this statement reaffirm thatthe following principles express an understanding of education as a fundamental human right.
1
1. Every human being is entitled to the rightto education.
The aims and objectives of education are the full development of the human personality and thesense of its dignity, the strengthening of respect forhuman rights and fundamental freedoms, the effectiveparticipation of all persons in a free society, thepromotion of understanding, tolerance and friendshipamong all nations and all racial, ethnic or religiousgroups and the maintenance of peace
2
, enablingeveryone to participate effectively in a democratic and
1 The organisations currently endorsing this statement are: the Global Campaignfor Education (GCE), the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) andEducation International, along with the Latin American Campaign for the Rightto Education (CLADE), the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and AdultEducation (ASPBAE), the Arab Campaign for Education for All (ACEA), the AfricaNetwork Campaign for Education for All (ANCEFA), the Latin American andCaribbean Council for Popular Education (CEAAL), the European Association forthe Education of Adults (EAEA), Global March Against Child Labor, ActionAid,Oxfam, DVV International, Plan International, IBIS and Open Society Foundations.2 Article 26, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); Article 13,International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966).
pluralistic society.
3
Because education is a
human right,all
human beings are equally entitled to it. In orderto fulfill this purpose, education must be available,accessible, acceptable and adaptable
4
. A human rightsperspective to education informs every facet of theeducation system and the whole range of educational processes: policy, access, curriculum, management,budgeting, provisioning and teaching and learning. Arights-based approach emphasises rights
to
education,rights
in
education and rights through education. Itthus concerns the teaching and learning of human
3 Article 13, Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rightsin the Area of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.4 Committee of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 13, 1999. The Committee points out four coredimensions of the right to education, standing on the assumption of theState as duty bearer:
Availability
: The existence of sufficient and well provisioned educational institutions;
Accessibility
: Free and full accessto education, without discrimination;
Acceptability
: The appropriatenessand relevance of education, in compliance with human rights standards;Adaptability: The ability of educational institutions to be responsive to theeducational community.
CIVIL SOCIETY JOINT STATEMENT 
September 2013
 
rights that can contribute to the development of acritical citizenry able to sustain and play a part inthe attainment of all other rights, and in promoting aculture of democracy and peace.
2. States are duty-bearers and must respect,protect and fulfill human rights, includingthe right to education.
This implies strengthening public education systemsthat respond to the obligations States have subscribedto in various human rights instruments
5
. These legal instruments oblige States as duty-bearers to respect,protect and fulfil the right to education. Paramount isthe obligation of States to ensure free, compulsory anduniversal education, at least in primary education andprogressively beyond, to encompass secondary andhigher education
6
. The requirement of free educationis unequivocal; disrespecting this jeopardises therealization of the right to education, and can behighly regressive in effect
7
. Recognising Statesas duty-bearers also implies robust accountabilitymechanisms, making governments responsible for theircommitments and obligations under human rights law
8
while at the same time regulating private educationprovision, which must be under the scrutiny of publiccontrol. For rights to have meaning, effective remediesmust be available to redress violations
9
, which entitlecitizens to demand State reparation using national,regional or international mechanisms of justiciability.
3. The right to education begins at birth andis lifelong.
Education must be equally available and accessiblenationwide, whether in urban or rural settings, within asafe environment, with good conditions and infrastructure
5 These include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), theInternational Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966),the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the Convention on theElimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965),Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) and the UNESCOConvention against Discrimination in Education (1960).6 Committee of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 13, 1999.7 Committee of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 11, 1999.8 Responsibility of Governments must be strengthened in the Post-2015Development Agenda – Press Release, UN Special Rapporteur for the Rightto Education, Kishore Singh, 2013.9 General Comment No. 5 Committee on the Rights of the Child: “General measuresof implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child”, 2003
and no obstacle of geographic, discriminatory oreconomic nature, throughout the entire educationcycle. This includes early childhood, primary, secondary,technical and vocational as well as university education.It furthermore includes literacy and adult education, inthe perspective of lifelong learning
10
. Recognising thatthe right to education begins at birth contributes tostrengthening children´s rights to protection and otherrelated rights. Political will to respond to all stages anddimensions of the right to education must be clearly speltout in post-2015 development and education agendas.At the same time, the importance of linking formal, non-formal and informal education should be underlined.
4. Adult education and literacy in a lifelonglearning framework are an integral partof the right to education.
International Human Rights instruments enshrine theright to education for all ages
11
, emphasizing that theright to fundamental education is not limited by age,race, class or gender and that it applies to children,young people and adults, including the elderly.Nevertheless, adult education and literacy in a lifelonglearning context have not received the attention theydeserve, and must be clearly prioritized in international and regional frameworks, as well as national andlocal government policies, and reflected accordinglyin post-2015 development and education agendas.Popular Education, through its practice and vision of citizenship, its intercultural perspective and its linkingof learning with the environment, has given vitality toadult education and literacy. It is important that policiesand programs focused on adult education recognizethe cultural heritage of adults, their knowledge,representations, expectations and skills as well as theircontexts and needs. An emphasis on the educationof women is of paramount importance, representinga fundamental commitment towards gender equalityand non-discrimination, and is strongly related to theachievement of dignity, respect and justice.
10 Progress has been made in primary education and yet at least 10% of primary-school-age children globally, or over 60 million, are still not inschool. The other levels of education lag much behind: insufficient accessto early childhood education and secondary education is especially evidentin low-income countries, where only 15% of children attend early childhoodeducation and where lower-secondary gross enrolment ratio is just 52% in2010. Furthermore, in terms of adult literacy, 774 million adults are still unable to read and write, 64% of whom are women.11 Committee of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 13, 1999.
 
5. A broad approach to quality education isneeded.
Quality education is an integral part of the right toeducation and must be viewed multi-dimensionally,including a focus on educational inputs and processesas well as short-, medium- and long-term achievements.Quality education provides people with the critical knowledge, abilities and skills that are needed toquestion, conceptualise and solve problems that occurboth locally and globally. The Convention on the Rightsof the Child underlines that attention must be paidnot only to the content of the curriculum but also theeducational processes, the pedagogical methods andthe environment within which education takes place,in line with the principles it enunciates
12
. In thissense, it is crucial that education be transformative,geared towards social and environmental justice, thedemocratization of power structures, promotion of equality and non-discrimination and respect for humanrights and fundamental freedoms. A narrow approach tolearning, understood as measurable learning outcomesin numeracy and literacy, can result in sidelining thesecore dimensions of quality and diminishing othersubjects and essential skills, values and relations,such as creativity, curiosity, critical thinking, civic-mindedness, solidarity, cooperation, self-discipline, self-confidence, co-responsibility, dialogue, compassion,empathy, courage, self-awareness, resilience, leadership,humility, peace, harmony with nature, thus detractingfrom achieving the overall purpose of education. In linewith this perspective, education evaluations should beholistic and formative, grounded on national parametersand respecting cultural and linguistic diversity, whilefocusing on systems as a whole and being developedwith the active engagement of teachers, studentsand parents.
6. Equality and non discrimination are coreelements of the right to education.
Equitable participation in quality education isfundamental. Expanded access and improved quality arecomplementary dimensions of the right to education andmust be pursued simultaneously. In this sense, all formsof discrimination and exclusion in and through educationmust be overcome, including those based on age, belief,birth, class, race, conscience, culture, disability, ethnic orsocial origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation,
12 Convention on the Rights of the Child, General Comment 1 (2001)
geographical location, language, marital status,pregnancy, religion, social status or wealth. Multipleforms of discrimination in and through education mustbe especially recognized and overcome, in particularthose suffered by girls and women. Difference, diversityand interculturalism must be recognized and valued,promoting patterns of egalitarian relations amongpeople and with the natural environment. Schools mustexist as places of encounter, of exercise of democracyand realization of human rights.
7. Teachers are at the center of qualityeducation.
A global development agenda for education must placeteachers at the centre of efforts to achieve quality byprioritizing teacher education and on-going professional development for all levels of education including adulteducation and literacy, reducing class size, supplyingteaching and learning resources, and improving salariesand general conditions of work. The rights of teachersmust be fulfilled both as a matter of principle andas a condition for fulfilling the right to education of children, adolescents, youth and adults. Furthermore,teachers at all levels of education, including adulteducation and literacy, must be given autonomyand academic freedom in their teaching practice, asqualified professionals with expert knowledge. Teachersshould actively engage in policy debate and decision-making, with a leading role in the process of ‘meaning-making’ in relation to educational quality. Last but notleast, teacher evaluation must be structured within aformative and learning-focused paradigm, and definedwith their active involvement. Under no circumstanceshould teacher evaluation or student assessment beused to punish and/or reward individuals based onhigh-stakes testing or other forms of “merit” pay, whichincites competition among those education actorswhose relations should be grounded on collaboration asa core condition for achieving the right to education.
8. The State must provide sufficientfinancing for public education.
State responsibility includes the provision of thenecessary financial resources for the realization of the right to education as well as the putting in placeof legal frameworks that ensure domestic financing
13
. As with other public goods, financing should be
13 Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right toeducation, Kishore Singh on Justiciability of the right to education, 2013.

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